Tag Archives: fear of failure

What Me Worry?

17 Dec

It’s been said that 97% of what we worry about never happens. And yet, for some of us, it’s seems almost impossible to put a stop to worrying. What is worry? The psychiatrist Carl Jung characterizes worry as a substitute for legitimate suffering. In other words, it’s neurotic, not helpful and a waste of time. Worry is when your thoughts run wild, sometimes to the point of being delusional and out of control. One negative thought attracts another, followed by another and so on until all you can see on your path is disaster. Everything is absolute, and everything is a catastrophe.

How does this happen? Why is worrying likely to cause a tailspin or downward spiral? When you start with one negative thought put out into the universe, the thought is like a magnet, attracting like thoughts. The level of vibration in a negative thought finds similar thoughts because they are vibrating at the very same frequency. Suddenly you have a bundle of worries, creating fear and depression. What you feel in any given moment is always the result of what you’re thinking at that moment.

Recently a friend of mine was selected to give a speech at an upcoming charity event. Betty is a highly intelligent and accomplished woman well known in her field, which is why she was asked to speak. Betty wasn’t thrilled, in fact she was petrified. Very much as I was when I was in New York to accept the Best Toy Store award for Magic Village toy store in San Jose, CA. And just like me this woman could think of nothing but catastrophe. What if I forget what to say? What if my voice cracks? What happens if I lose my place? What happens if I mispronounce a word, or worse yet, someone’s name?

In the weeks prior to the speech all she did was worry. Now think about this. She allowed herself to be consumed by fear and worry for weeks leading up to the event. Were these happy times for her? Of course not! Her worrying overshadowed everything she did in those weeks; her job, time with her family and friends, the pleasure in her romantic relationship, and her peace of mind. And, for what? Nothing. Worrying was a waste of her time, energy and happiness. Did she do well when she actually gave the speech? Absolutely, she was great. Did any of the things she worried about come to pass? Yes. Her mouth was a bit dry at the beginning and she felt a bit dizzy walking up the stairs to the podium. Then, she took a sip of water, took a deep breath and looked out at her audience. She suddenly realized she was just human, the same as everyone sitting in front of her. If she made a mistake, and she did, she still felt the thrill of getting to talk to so many people about why she supported the charity, and why the organization means so much to her.

Nobody asked for perfect, and you never have to show up perfect. We’re all human. We will make mistakes. It’s all part of life. I’ve spoken to hundreds of groups over the years and I will tell you this, not a one of those talks was perfect. I made mistakes. As long as I live I will continue to make mistakes. So what? Who cares? They don’t and I certainly shouldn’t.

Love,

Michael

From Failure to Success!

10 Dec

Every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent success. ~Napoleon Hill

It is my belief that each of us is born for greatness and that each of us deserves to have everything that we desire. But how many of us actually achieve this, our destiny? Not many I’m afraid.

In my lifetime I’ve known people who seemed to have all the attributes for success; intelligence, charisma, charm, personality, and a host of other qualities. Yet, no matter the industry or other career path they’ve chosen, they have always struggled. And I’ve known people who lacked most of what my first example possessed, yet they have risen to the top, almost effortlessly. If you managed a sales force or owned your own company you know what I mean.

Up until about a dozen years ago I was like most people, baffled why some succeeded while others of greater talent floundered. I had an inkling that it might be because of fear and the individuals inability to fight through and overpower their fears. Hey, all I had to do was look at myself, a fear based person since birth.

In studying fear I came to realize that all of us feel fear, very often the very same fears as others, but some have the ability to feel the fear, yet do what is necessary to succeed. While others allow fear to stop them in their tracks.

I came to realize that one of the greatest of all fears is the fear of failure. Most of us acquired this fear when we were quite young, probably after our egos got bruised when our classmates laughed at us for a wrong answer. As we got older this fear actually grew and we began to avoid taking risks in our lives. Risk is nothing more than giving up the known for the unknown. But the unknown almost always includes failure.

When you were just an infant you learned how to crawl, then you learned how to pull yourself up to a wobbly standing position, albeit holding on to something for support. Then you let go of that support and took your first step. Did you then race across the room doing back flips? No, you probably plopped back down to the floor. So, you crawled back to that table or chair for support and started all over again. Did you think of yourself as a failure? Of course not. This is how we all learn.

Was there a seed of success in failing and failing, and then finally learning how to walk? Of course there was; you learned to run, to jump, and to dance.  

I am now going to give you permission to fail. Yes, go ahead and take a risk. It’s OK to fail. Why do I want you to fail? Because that’s how you learn. That’s how you grow. And please remember this: Failing does not make you a failure. It just moves you one step closer to success, as long as you don’t give up.

Love,

Michael

Could you learn to love public speaking?

11 Nov

In my book Overpowering Fear – Defeating the #1 Challenge in Sales and Life I talk about giving an acceptance speech in New York for an award my company won and how utterly scared I was. So scared that when I returned home to San Jose I immediately enrolled in a Dale Carnegie course to learn to overpower my fear of public speaking. The classes were one evening a week for 8 weeks and were divided into three sections: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. How to Win Friends and Influence People. And my favorite (the reason I was there) Effective Public Speaking.

I loved the procedure they used for choosing the topic we would talk about each week. They would call us up one at a time and when the person before us started their 2 minute talk we picked a small folded piece of paper out of a basket. On that piece of paper was the subject of our speech. We now had less than 120 seconds to come up with what we wanted to talk about and put it into some type of order, and it had to last for the full two minutes. And believe me, those were long minutes.

Talk about tough. This was trial by fire. I remember the fear I felt in my gut each time I did it. What was comforting was knowing everyone in the class had to go through the very same thing, and I’m sure felt the same fear. But by the end of the 8 week course everyone in the class could get up and instantaneously talk for a full 2 minutes, on almost any subject.

Today I love getting up in front of groups and talking. Do I ever feel fear? Certainly. We never fully get over fear. What we want to learn is to walk through it. To overpower the fear. To not let it stop us. Feel it, acknowledge it, and then go ahead and do it anyway. What’s the worst thing that’s going to happen to you? Make a mistake? So what. That’s what life is for. How else would we ever learn?

How many times do babies pull themselves up only to lose their balance and fall down on their padded little bottoms? If they gave up because of fear of failing the majority of the world would be crawling their way to work. Can you picture that? Only the fearless ones would be standing tall and walking. So, which one are you, the crawler or the walker?

Love,

Michael

 

Doing Whatever it Takes! Maybe?

7 Aug

Over my career I’ve hired, trained and managed thousands of salespeople. But I was often baffled. Why did some people who I thought would be in the top 10% of producers fail to achieve the results I expected of them, while others whom I thought of as less talented, rose up to be my best people? I came to the conclusion that the top producers in any company were those who were able to face their fears and do whatever was necessary to achieve their goals.

These were the people who overpowered their fears and outsold their colleagues by huge margins. These were the salespeople who stood-up, faced their fears, and did whatever it took to get the business.

Today, a great deal of my work is with franchisors and franchisees who sell in the B2B and B2C markets. These markets, as opposed to restaurants and other retail stores, require the franchise owner to sell. Unfortunately, the majority of franchise buyers have had very little experience in selling. Many have never sold and the thought of themselves as salespeople can literally make them physically ill.

Buying a franchise is a major life changing event. Often it will take every dollar these people have, and then some. The “then some” are often loans from family and friends and banks (if their credit is good and they’re lucky). With no salary or income until the business is profitable there is a lot riding on their ability to make the business successful.

Often, because of their fear of selling, these struggling business owners spend the majority of their time doing operational functions that really don’t matter if there are no customers. I call this make-work. The new franchisee thinks they’re busy every day and then in a matter of a year or two they have to shut their doors. Most likely they’ll blame their failure on not having enough working capital upfront. This excuse makes them feel better, but think about this. Would the income coming in from paying customers solve the lack of working capital problem? Of course it would.

The things that stop these fledgling entrepreneurs from success are the very things that stop so many salespeople from achieving their quotas. The fear of active prospecting. If franchise owners and struggling salespeople can overpower their fear of these 8 active prospecting activities they can literally double and even triple their incomes without even improving their closing ratio.

ACTIVE PROSPECTING ACTIVITIES

Networking – Five Events a Week

Drop-In Calling – After Every Sales Call

Joining Boards and Committees

Doing Free Talks – One a Month

Joining Multiple Referral Networks

Providing Seminars – Once a Quarter

Cold Calling – 25 Dials a Day

Asking for Referrals From Every Customer

Every salesperson I have ever hired or trained and every franchisee I have ever worked with always swore they would do whatever it took to succeed. But, there were always stipulations. And they always sound the same; as long as I don’t have to (blank, blank, blank).

If you are a franchisee or a salesperson and you want to succeed then you must do WHATEVER IT TAKES to make it happen! And that includes everything you see on that list above, with no excuses and no bullshit!

With Love,

Michael

I Worried and Worried – But Nothing Happened

1 Apr

I have been through some terrible things in my life…some of which actually happened. – Mark Twain

When was the last time you had to give a speech or get up in front of your colleagues and make a presentation? Was it scary for you? Were you so afraid that you lost sleep over it?

For most people it is the epitome of terror. In fact more people fear public speaking than fear death itself. Fortunately, you won’t have to give the eulogy at your own funeral?

As scary as it was when you finally had to give your talk it was nowhere near as frightening as your mind made it out to be in the weeks leading up to the event. The fact is for most people the daily fear they feel regarding an upcoming event is often greater than the fear they feel at the time the event happens.

Why does this happen and what can you do about it? In my book, Overpowering Fear – Defeating the #1 Challenge in Sales and Life I talk about having to give a speech after accepting an award in New York City. For weeks leading up the speech I was a nervous wreck. Every day my mind raced as I came up with one excuse after another to try get out of it, including faking an illness. It was pure misery.

But at the moment I was called up onto the stage the fear seemed to dissipate and I knew I would be alright. Isn’t that usually the way it happens? We allow our minds to generate nothing but negative and catastrophic thoughts which in turn cause the fear based feelings we feel in our bodies. It ruins our days and nights, and for what?

Mark Twain knew what most social scientists know; that over 90% of the things we worry about and fear the most, never happen. They never happen.

So, the next time you’re facing a scary challenge remember that only one out of ten things you worry about ever come to pass. And when that one thing does happen it is never as bad as you made it out to be.

And remember: Happiness comes from living each day without fear.

With Love,

Michael

Failing Does Not Make You a Failure

28 Mar

Missing the mark does not make me a failure; it only means that my plan did not work out as I had anticipated. ~From the Book Born Rich

It is said that the fear of failure is one of our greatest fears. But why is that? We certainly weren’t born with the fear of failure. In fact as infants and toddlers we were pretty much fearless. We needed to be, because there was so much to learn, and if we were afraid of trying we would never have learned to crawl, to stand up, to walk or even to speak.

So who taught us to fear failing? You can say society but I think it came a little closer to home. Failing, and the fear of failing, are learned responses taught to us by our parents, siblings, friends, classmates, teachers and others who interacted with us when we were young. It usually came when we took a risk and tried something new.

Have you ever watched a baby learn how to stand on their own? They’ll crawl up to a low table and with chubby hands and fingers reach up to the tables edge, and then using all their strength pull their body up, only to find that their little legs couldn’t hold them. So they plop back to the floor and within seconds their hands will be reaching out to the table’s edge to try again. And they’ll continue to try over and over again until they succeed. At this age no one taught them to feel embarrassment and shame at failing to succeed.

I recently gave a keynote address to a corporation’s international sales team about our fear of failing, and this is what I said:

“In 2nd grade your teacher may have asked you to come up to the front of the room and read your essay on what you did that summer. At first you were confident, but then as you began reading you struggled over some words, or lost your place. The kids all started laughing and the more they laughed the more embarrassed you felt, and the worse you did. As you looked over at your teacher you saw on her face that she was disappointed in you, and when she admonished you by saying, “Next time I expect something better,” you were praying that there never would be a next time. But oh there was.”

Fear of failing is a social fear and has absolutely no basis in fact. What we fear is not the thing we are attempting, but the laughs and jeers of others if we don’t succeed. Our faces will flush with embarrassment. We may even feel some shame. Our “friendly ego” will flood our mind with vivid memories of all the other times in life we failed, repeating every taunt we heard from those who were present.

The older we get the more failure adverse we become. Some of us actually believe that we should know the answer to every question we are asked. And when we don’t we fear we’ll look stupid to the asker. Others are totally risk adverse. Avoiding at all costs learning or doing something new, because they fear being a newbie or a novice. Every time we do this, we lose. We lose the joy of doing something or learning something new. We lose the opportunities that come with a new skill. Sometimes we may even lose the perfect life partner – because we were afraid to go to a dance or party where we would have met them.

Is this any way to live our lives? Absolutely not. Just remember that when you do fail it is an expected part of the learning process. And failing does not make you a failure.

With Love,

Michael

Are You Getting Ready to Get Ready?

1 Mar

We are always getting ready to live, but never living. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

My firm belief is that each of us was born to create. That the life force that dwells within us was placed there with the distinct purpose of moving our species forward, with each succeeding generation being smarter and more creative than the proceeding one. It’s as if each of us was born with a unique function, or what some would describe as a life’s purpose. But how many of us truly achieve their function?

Abba Eban, the great Israeli statesman, once said about PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, “that he never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” While he was alive, Mr. Arafat had countless opportunities to make peace with Israel and thus guarantee his legacy and a better life for the Palestinian people. But it seemed that every time he got close to achieving this goal he would do or say something that would cause the talks to breakdown and the process would go back to square one.

I believe that what stops most people short of the goal, is fear. And this fear I’m talking about is one many of us don’t even know we have, because we don’t feel it or recognize its presence like other fears. The fear I am talking about is Fear of Success.

Fear of Rejection we feel. Fear of Failure we feel. These fears and almost all others cause us intense discomfort; faster heartbeat and breathing, the movement of all the blood from our gut to our arms and legs, the sweating, the rush of adrenaline. But with fear of success – NOTHING.

I’ve always felt that buried deep within me is this fear. Although I have lived a successful life I always felt that I could have achieved more. That something within me, my drive and ambition, would get me to a certain point, and then bam, I’d hit a wall. Have you ever felt this way?

Before I recognized Fear of Success in other people what I would see was a person getting ready to get ready. And by that I mean someone who did all the research, got themselves educated to the point where they knew what to do, but never pulled the trigger. Never took the leap. And when asked why, they’d have to think, but could never come up with a logical answer.

I’ll admit, I’m still looking for that answer, and maybe you are too.

With Love,

Michael